February 8, 2008: News Bites
Comcast pulls the plug on AZN TV, Ken and Chow go to Shanghai, and The Eye sees mediocre business. All this and more in the latest edition of News Bites.
Published: Friday, February 08, 2008
AZN TV to bow out on April 9th
Comcast, the largest cable operator in the US, will pull the curtains on AZN TV Channel on April 9th. Spurred by their acquisition of Liberty Media’s International Channel, Comcast launched AZN TV in 2005. The company saw great promise in the youth and affluence of the largely ignored Asian American market, hoping AZN TV would be their equivalent of BET. Programming consisted of popular Asian films, dramas, music, documentaries, news, and original programming. It also carries several anime and live action adaptation of popular manga series. Most programs were either in English or subtitled. According to Comcast, the channel had a viewership of about 13.9 million. However, the failure to attract new viewers and difficulties in securing advertising sealed the channel’s fate. The channel’s Asian Excellence Award will migrate to another Comcast property, the E! Entertainment Network. Comcast has promised it will continue to broadcast Asian programming through its International Networks. The channel’s departure from the airwaves leaves cable channel ImaginAsian TV and independent stations like KSCI Los Angeles as the only other options for comprehensive Asian orientated programming. --William Hong
Kina crashes Super Bowl
It was an exciting day last Sunday -- not just because of the Super Bowl and Eli’s improbable last minute drive -- because the winner was announced to the Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" contest which pitted ten musicians against each other to win a record label deal. Kina Grannis’ music video was shown on one of the post-first quarter commercial breaks thanks to millions of voters. The Capistrano Valley High School graduate signed a deal with Interscope Records which guarantees one album and an option for six more. Azoff Management Co., Christina Aguilera’s management company, has even called the artist to help her with her tours which she will be preparing for. Thanks to the broadcast of the Super Bowl, Kina has garnered many fans all around the world. You can catch her music video here on her YouTube site. --Richard Park
Inspired by Barack Obama's emotional speech after the New Hampshire Primary, Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas created Yes We Can in forty-eight hours. Will.i.am uses Barack's change-themed speech as the lyrics for his song. Over twenty celebrities, including John Legend, Scarlett Johansson, and Kate Walsh, express their endorsement by singing or speaking in "Yes We Can." Asian American contributors are actress Kelly Hu and singer Nicole Scherziner. Will.i.am has also released a poem about the making of "Yes We Can," in which he echoes the sentiment of Obama's slogan. The video split-screens footage of Obama delivering his speech with the faces of his supporters. All voices speak the same message, but in their own styles. It's not exactly catchy, but Will.i.am is less interested in making a hit than calling for political engagement. --Lisa Leong
“The Asian horror phenomenon is officially dead”?
A critic calls the remake “overripe cheese”. Another uses the words “uncreative, lazy, modern Hollywood horror”. And all can’t fight the urge to poke fun at Jessica Alba’s acting. The Eye came out in theatres during Super Bowl Weekend, earned about $14,000,000 at the box office, and ranked number two right behind Hannah Montana: The Movie. While the film may have performed sufficiently in the box office, how has it affected the trend of Hollywood remakes of successful Asian horrors? Directed by the Pang Brothers, the original Eye was a blockbuster hit in Hong Kong, and won awards for Best Cinematography, Best Actress, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Effects. David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s 2008 remake is faithful to the plot of the original, but Alba plays a concert violinist whose story takes place in Los Angeles and Mexico rather than Hong Kong and Thailand. --Christie Liu
Ken Watanabe and Chow Yun-Fat joins Shanghai cast
Director Mikael Hafstrom's new thriller, Shanghai, gained two new additions to its cast: Ken Watanabe and Chow Yun-Fat (whom, incidentally, recently left the cast of Red Cliff). Set and shot in Shanghai, this searching-for-the-truth historical thriller tells of an American journalist (John Cusack) in Shanghai during pre-Pearl Harbor WWII, who finds his friend murdered and vows to solve the mystery behind it. Simultaneously, he falls for a woman (Gong Li) who is married to a gang leader (Chow) and uncovers yet another, grander mystery that his own government is trying to conceal. Watanabe will play the Japanese military officer who is a part of the Japanese control in US/Japan controlled Shanghai. The drama begins shooting next month. --Ian Shaikh
Rosalind Chao at LA’s Geffen Playhouse
Alongside Mark Feuerstein (What Women Want), Paula Cale Lisbe, Justina Machado, and Jaime Ray Newman, Rosalind Chao will be performing in Neil LeBute’s Some Girl(s) at the Geffen Playhouse from February 6 to March 9. Feuerstein plays writer Guy who travels from city to city revisiting women of his past, reliving “the scene of four crimes of the heart”. Chao is Lindsay, one of the older amongst the four women. This comedy will be a great opportunity to catch Chao before her appearance in the upcoming Nanking. The first-generation Californian actress may be better known for her roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Joy Luck Club, and more recently Just Like Heaven and Freaky Friday. --Christie Liu
Project Emily Kuroda
The familiar faces of LA's Asian American theatre community gather to present The Emily Project: an Oymun show. No, Oymun is not some esoteric term in theatre art that happened to slip your educated mind. "Oymun" is the director Jason Fong's middle name and, to the group of performers, it has come to mean: a show created through a series of improv workshops, little vignettes hewn and intertwined into one piece. Alberto Isaac, Emily Kuroda, Haruye Ioka, Irene Furukawa, June Lu, Ken Narasaki, Ping Wu, Sab Shimono, Sharon Omi, and Takayo Fischer will be performing two shows at the Electric Lodge in Venice on Saturday, February 9. Proceeds from the show will benefit The Connector Project, an effort by TNKat.org to strengthen the Asian/Pacific Islander arts community. Check out the websites (and the pretty little origami cats) here. --JoJo Yang